How To Be Assertive, Without Being Pushy

Nov 24, 2017 1 Min Read


Pushy people want what they want, regardless of how you feel. You have a “pushy radar “that tells you to resist, protect, hold back, or attack.

You put up with pushy people because you’re afraid not to. Pushy leaders walk on others to get things done. They won’t take no for an answer. On the other hand, leadership demands assertiveness.

Pushy is:

  • Annoying.
  • Selfish.
  • Rude.
  • Controlling.

Ever feel like your boss just might have your head?

Successful leaders aggressively push agendas forward. They expect excellence and results. If you can’t push yourself and others toward a goal, you can’t lead.

Focus, change, deadlines, collaboration, communication, and integrity, all require assertiveness. But bowling people over doesn’t ignite fires.

Pushy may win the battle but it loses the war. Distinction: Transform pushy into assertive:

  1. Identify shared wins. Pushy becomes encouragement when you help others win.
  2. Listen first. Talking first says you think you’re first.
  3. Open up rather than close down. You don’t mean to be pushy but when you close down, you are.

Impact of assertive versus pushy:

  • Rapport versus friction.
  • Engagement versus resistance.
  • Satisfaction versus resentment.
  • Connection versus disconnection.

Successfully assertive:

Push people and they push back unless they’re pushovers. You may feel great when you get your own way. But a team of pushovers isn’t going to go very far.

Assertive includes awareness, compassion, along with drive. But, pushy focuses on objectives and treats people like objects.

Stop pushing – Ignite fires

  • Give people a chance to rise up by not pushing.
  • Identify and push for shared wins.
  • Clarify the path forward.
  • Establish deadlines.
  • Step back. (The hardest part)
  • Remain interested.
  • Expect excellence.
  • Stay available.
  • Honour progress.
  • Reward achievement.
  • Build on successes.

Warning: The ground between releasing people and achieving excellence is rocky. People fall short.

If you can’t tolerate falling down, then pushy is your only option. The key to successful assertiveness is aligning personal and organisational interests.

Dan Rockwell is a coach, speaker and is freakishly interested in leadership. He is an author of a world-renowned leadership blog, Leadership Freak. To get in touch with Dan, write to us at

Reposted with permission

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